Got something on your chest,, Get it off here,,


Postby rospaul » 30 May 2012, 10:07

:evil: :evil: :evil:

A salvage firm extracting metals from the wrecks of three British warships sunk in 1914 is "desecrating" the last resting place of nearly 1,500 British sailors, according to a campaign group.

The British and Dutch governments are being called on to put an end to a salvage operation which is looking to reclaim metals from the wrecks of HMS Aboukir, HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy, all of which were torpedoed 20 miles off the Dutch coast.

Archaeological campaign group Mortimer says the British government must halt the work to defend the military covenant and to protect the evidence of one of the most significant naval actions of World War I.

However, a recent letter from junior defence minister Gerald Howarth to Labour MP Clive Efford suggests that the wrecks may not be protected under international law following their sale to a German salvage firm in 1954.

Howarth wrote that government "must assume" that Britain's rights to protect the vessels were signed away when they were sold.

"The wrecks can no longer be considered sovereign immune and thus are no longer eligible for protection under international law," wrote Howarth. "Similarly, because title to the wrecks appears to have been transferred we would not seek to designate them under PMRA (the Protection of Military Remains act) 1986.

"…We can hardly object to their salvage as such, as it appears we knowingly sold them for that purpose back in 1954; we must assume that the decision to dispose of the wrecks was taken by our predecessors in full knowledge of the facts and that they acted in the public interest as they perceived it at that time."

Howarth added that the government would "request the Dutch authorities do whatever they can to ensure the salvors treat the wrecks with appropriate respect and sensitivity".

Andy Brockman, of campaign group Mortimer, said the vessels had fallen into "a legal back hole".

"If they were in UK territorial waters they would be protected by the 1986 Protection of Military Remains Act. There is also a UNESCO convention covering the remains of warships, but this has never been ratified by the UK.

"What seems to be extraordinary is that the British government sold the salvage rights in the 1950s.

"We are still exploring legal avenues to try and get the salvage stopped, but ultimately our argument is a moral one – this is the desecration of a war grave, and the British government has a duty to act in order to honour the military covenant."

"What the salvagers are now doing is hugely disrespectful. If we cannot stop the operation through legal channels we will attempt to do so with public pressure. There is growing opposition to this, both in Britain and Holland."

A Panamanian registered ship, MV Bela, is carrying out the operation from the Dutch port of Stellendam, Brockman said.

"Although the vessel is Panamanian registered and the wrecks are outside Dutch territorial waters our understanding is that the crew are Dutch nationals and they are operating from a Dutch port. There is growing anger about the operation in the Netherlands where it probably has a higher profile than here in the UK.

"The vessel is basically using a 10-tonne winch with a grapple attached to rip pieces from the wrecks. The principal targets are bronze, copper and low background steel that was produced prior to the nuclear age and is in demand for specialist applications, particularly medical instruments.

"Anecdotally we believe they are not finding the salvage particularly easy, so there is time for public pressure to build and put a stop to this."

The three Cressy class heavy cruisers were the first major vessels to fall victim to German submarines when they were torpedoed by U-9 on September 22 1914 in what was described as a "huge wake-up call to the Admiralty".

"It forced the Royal Navy to withdraw the Grand Fleet from its principal anchorage at Scapa Flow until it could be properly defended against submarines," said Brockman.

A total of 1,459 sailors died in the attack. There were 857 survivors.

MY GRANDFATHER JOHN NATHANIEL ROSE D1973 RNR WAS ONE OF THOSE WHO LOST HIS LIFE THAT DAY. The word respect seems to be forgotten in this day and age.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ? :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:
Last edited by rospaul on 30 May 2012, 12:22, edited 1 time in total.
Remember yesterday, dream about tomorrow, but live for today".
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Postby rospaul » 30 May 2012, 12:18

Remember yesterday, dream about tomorrow, but live for today".
(Paul the dog walker)
User avatar
Posts: 1243
Joined: 31 Jan 2008, 12:18
Location: "OLD LYNN"

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